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Reverse engineering

Definition : Reverse engineering

Reverse engineering is a process that involves studying an existing object or system to understand its internal operation, components, and mechanisms. It involves taking an existing product and disassembling it to understand how it was manufactured and how it operates. Reverse engineering can be applied to physical products, as well as software or computer systems.

Reverse engineering can be used for a variety of purposes, such as understanding how the product of a competitor works, designing similar or better products, recovering data from obsolete or damaged systems, or searching for security vulnerabilities in computer systems.

However, reverse engineering can also be used illegally, particularly for counterfeiting protected products by patents or intellectual property rights. Consequently, there are laws and regulations that govern the legal use of reverse engineering in various countries.

Reverse engineering can pose several problems for intellectual property and trade secrets, including:

  1. Violation of intellectual property. If the dismantled product or software is protected by a patent, a copyright or any other intellectual property right, reverse engineering can be considered a violation of these rights. This can lead to legal disputes and lawsuits.
  2. Counterfeiting. Reverse engineering can be used to copy a product or software and create a replica that infringes on the original product. This can lead to significant financial losses for companies whose products are illegally copied.
  3. Disclosure of trade secrets. Reverse engineering can also be used to reveal trade secrets or confidential information of a company, such as design plans, production data, or manufacturing processes. This can provide a competitive advantage to other companies and diminish the commercial value of the company whose secrets have been disclosed.

Because of these problems, many companies protect their products and software with security measures such as encryption, source code obfuscation or the use of reverse engineering protection technologies. Intellectual property and trade secret laws can also be used to protect the rights of product owners and companies against the illegal use of reverse engineering.

Il convient de distinguer le reverse engineering de la décompilation de logiciel, puisqu’il s’agit de deux concepts similaires mais différents.